The confidence bank - watching your 'fear' finances

The confidence bank - watching your 'fear' finances

February 15, 2023

The confidence bank

Think of your partnership with your horse as being based on a confidence 'bank'.

Every time you encounter something fearful, when you succeed, your confidence grows.

For the rider, that could be tackling a bigger jump, fly it, and whoohoo, you'll want to do it again - perhaps even go bigger.  That's putting perhaps five confidence points in your bank.  

Equally, if you fail, your confidence is knocked.  You've not only not put more confidence points in your bank, you've actually taken ten confidence points out.

Confidence grows much slower than is depletes - just like the interest on your debts is always greater than the interest on your assets. 

And for your partnership, when you overcome a fear together you build up your bank to have greater and greater confidence each time. 

Equally if you and/or your horse are left feeling doubtful of yourself, or each other, the amount in your confidence bank will be depleted.

I'll regularly rely on a horse's confidence to build my own - schoolmasters are like gold for that very reason.  The horse helps the rider build their confidence.  And when the horse helps my confidence so my trust in him grows., and my ability to then instil confidence increases too.  I'll start taking the lead because, "Of course, we've got this!"

For the novice or nervous horse, a confident rider, helps him grow.  His trust in the rider grows and so, he soon will be able to instil confidence in the rider too, "Of course, we've got this!". 

After all, while some horses are born confident, and some riders are born confident, both can be made (and hence schoolmasters and trainers tend to be those with experience!)

The art of developing your partnership is perhaps recognising where this bank is at - ride by ride and day by day.

"He used to be good, now he's spooking at everything!"

"He just exploded out of nowhere!"

"He was fine until a blackbird flew out of the hedge."

"Why won't he do that for me?"

Let's take these examples.

"Why won't he do that for me?"

Riding is all about partnership.  Even amongst professionals horses will swap riders and perform better for some than others - and these riders are fabulous! Even handling, some people instil calm and confidence, some anxiety, some high energy, some lazy.  And horses have characteristics too.  Take two young ponies growing up together - one is likely bolder than the other.  It's the match that matters and also our training to earn our each other's respect, trust and love.  Consider every element of your horse - his tack, his feed, his routine, his friends and be aware some horses prefer one-on-one, some love company, some love a regime, some love no regime - and if we're the wrong home for that horse, neither of us are going to flourish.


"He was fine until a blackbird flew out of the hedge."

In fact, earlier in the ride, the airbrakes of a lorry had caused him to twitch, a pony had popped it's head up from behind a hedge and caught him by surprise, and lastly the blackbird. The rider hadn't recognised that the lorry and the pony had taken money out of their confidence bank and now, a seemingly small thing, had worried the horse far more - indeed he might not even have reacted had it been the first incident.  I'm always pretty forgiving - I think horses have a general rule of 3 -it's the third 'incident' that really knocks them; even things like losing balance on a turn in a dressage test, followed by touching the arena board, then when the bell for the next door arena goes, that might then be enough to upset the horse; or 2 fences knocked on a show jumping round are ok, but when the stride is slightly wrong at the next fence he'll stop and not give it a go. I'd use the Click & Connect Neck Strap to give him maximum chance of clearing the fence and keeping his balance!


"He just exploded out of nowhere."

In fact, the rider was in a rush, had struggled to hitch the trailer, no doubt tacked up in haste and when she'd got on, the horse exploded.  Her pent up energy had fed into the horse who was now bottled up.  She didn't grab her Click & Connect Neck Strap to hold onto when she mounted, he moved off slightly due to the high energy, she landed heavily, he reacted to the discomfort and 'exploded'.


"He used to be good, now he's spooking at everything."

How lovely, that honeymoon period.  A horse comes in to your yard and is as perfect as when you tried him.  But gradually he's lost confidence in himself, and you.  Perhaps no one has praised him for not spooking, for being brave, perhaps no one has used their confidence to help him.  Equally, It could even be little things like not insisting he step back as you enter his stable, allowing him to pull you towards the grass he wants to eat and that's transpired into him not respecting you, so when in the saddle, he just doesn't believe you when you say that flowerpot is ok!  Even little things, like using our Click & Connect Neck Strap to tack up so that you can do so without disturbing his head can make a difference!

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